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West Coast Mainline to get a new operator

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It’s just been announced that long-standing operator Virgin Rail will be replaced by FirstGroup to run the West Coast Mainline later this year – a move that’s sparked concerns that ticket prices may well rise.

We’ve got you covered wherever you’re going from the latest rail industry updates to tips to help you find cheap train tickets on journeys long and short. Just read on for all the news on the West Coast Mainline and how the changes might affect you…

Some big news

Starting on 9 December, FirstGroup will take over from Virgin Rail to run the West Coast Mainline after successfully winning a bid to take over the contract.

As one of the most significant routes in the UK, the West Coast Mainline serves some 31 million passengers every year who take the train between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and Central Scotland – for business trips and on their jollies.

Virgin Rail has been in the conductor’s seat since 1997 and has a pretty good record of keeping things running smoothly, so the switch in operator has already been greeted with criticisms that passengers might face a price hike and reduced standards of service when travelling on the route, especially as FirstGroup bid much more for the line than Virgin bid.

Coupled with the news this week that rail fares are set to rise between 6 and 11 per cent all over Blighty in the New Year, more than ever passengers are worried they’re about to get priced off the railways.

Mixed reactions

News that the West Coast Mainline will change hands from Virgin to First has been met with mixed reactions. While some commuters have expressed worry that prices will rise and unions have said they’re concerned that jobs may be cut, some passengers have welcomed the move as First is set to bring in a series of upgrades, including improved service links, new trains, more seats and upgraded stations.

Whether a naysayer or believer, you can brace yourself for the pending price rise and gear up to make the most of the planned upgrades on the West Coast Mainline with a few easy tips:

Use our journey planner to find the best fares on the best routes every time you travel by train. And at there’s no booking, credit or debit car, or delivery fees – all you pay for is the price of the ticket, helping keep those pennies in your purse.

Break up long journeys. Travelling from Glasgow to London? Why not break that journey into two parts – stopping over gives you a chance to visit the shops, stretch your legs and get some fresh air, not to mention can help reduce ticket prices on long journeys by combining tickets for two shorter journeys.

Use a railcard. Railcards offer great value for money and can help you trim even more off you train fare. There’s a variety of different railcards out there – from the 16-25 railcard to the family & friends railcard – so you can find one that’s right for you.

Do you travel regularly on the West Coast Mainline? How do you feel about the news that Virgin Rail will no longer be its main operator? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. i think that richard branson should not have the franchise on the west coast mainline anymore and some of the train guards should be sacked as they dont always come round to check tickets on some virgin routes
    kind regards
    martin fernyhough

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